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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to build a gaming table in 2.5 years... or three days

When I first started in this hobby, I always dreamed of having a gaming table in my own home.  As a young gamer, owning your own gaming table was a status symbol that informed all and sundry that you were a serious player in the gaming community, possessing the means of running games independently free of the constraints of GW or any other gaming store.  The more time I spent in the hobby, the more my ideals changed, as gaming tables became more and more available and countless tutorials on the web showing you just how easy making a gaming table really is. 

 Then, about two and a half years ago, I decided it was time I tried my hand at building a gaming table.  As eager as I was, I knew there’d be difficulties ahead, especially since I’m not the most hardware-savvy person in my family.  There is a reason why geeks such as me are architects, engineers and / or safety officers and not builders, boilermakers or handymen.  Because while I can plan out a build to the nth degree, the end product usually ends up looking more wonky than Empire architecture and nothing like the original design.  I have the utmost confidence that as a builder I would make structures that I, as a safety officer would condemn within seconds of laying eyes on it.  To compensate for this I looked to Mark of Project Circle to help me out.  As a stalwart veteran of all things gaming related, I had no doubt that he would possess the necessary know-how and ingenuity that would help make this table great.  Considering the end product, I’d say my thought process was right on the money too.

 Year 0 / Day 1

Considering our combined powers of procrastination, it was quickly decided that this was a project that we would take one day at a time.  It just so happened that the time between each day ended up being roughly about a year.  The powers of procrastination are strong in us!  The first day was spent trolling our local hardware store, collecting all the items needed to build the frame of the table and the table top itself.  Most hardware stores will cut timber to length at your request and I heartily encourage everyone to take advantage of that offer, if only to get the table top cut to size.  Once home, Mark and I measured and cut the framework to size before assembling it and making the small adjustments needed to ensure it was square.  Retrospectively, considering we had the tabletop already in our possession, the smarter idea would have been to fix the framework immediately to the underside of the tabletop, rather than marking the frame separately and fitting it once it had dried.    This would have saved us some anxiety in the future, but life is all about learning isn’t it?

Year 1 / Day 2

With the framework now attached to the tabletop (with some minor ‘adjustments’ to make it flush with the frame), it was time to texture the bastard.  When using textured paint, the important tip here is to always remember to read the instructions on the side of the paint tin.  This will ensure that your end result not only looks good, but also allows you to slide movement trays across its surface without any issue at all.  Being the gung-ho painters we are, we chose to ignore this simple rule in favour of a ‘lets get this done so we can watch Anime’ approach.  As a result, the end result was still quite impressive, with the table sporting an amazing amount of texture, but unfortunately the texture was such that all movement trays were only capable of moving 3 inches before stopping dead and causing the entire front rank to fall over.  This problem was overcome easily enough however, with the table being repurposed from a Fantasy ‘snow table’ to 40K ‘city-fight table’.  Decision made, we left the table to dry and returned to watching Anime.

Year 2.5 / Day 3

Fast forward another year and a bit and we’ve reached the present day.  Once again Mark and I organised a hobby day.  Paint was purchased, paint rollers secured (we’d broken the handles of the other ones last time) and an Anime series chosen (Bleach for the win!!).  Within the first 45 minutes the basecoat was down and drying and we headed off to watch the last of Season 2 of Bleach.  Once that concluded we returned to the painting area to check on the table which was dry and ready for the next two layers of colour.  Note to self:  DRY-BRUSHING A 6 X 4 TABLE USING AN ACTUAL BRUSH IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!!  Mark suggested that we use a section of sponge instead to get that mottled effect which worked really well... when Mark was wielding the sponge.  My side looked kinda wonky as splotches of Bubonic Brown appeared periodically across the tabletop.  Thankfully my sponge control improved with the application of Bleached Bone as a second highlight, while Mark’s side remained an example of a sponge painting master-class.  I suspect he’s done something similar in the past, but I’ve as yet failed to discover the secret to his sponge control.  My current theory is that he is part of an ancient group of Shaolin Monks who specialise in some sort of sponge-orientated combat, though I’m reluctant to ask him about it lest he see’s me as some sort of security threat and is forced to kill me with my own paint-covered sponge...

Painting Tool or deadly weapon??

So there you have it!  How to build and paint a gaming table in 2.5 years... or 3 days.  However the true test of the table is in its ability to blend in with the terrain that was build specifically with it in mind.  As the pictures above can attest, it seems to blend pretty darn well.  I have to say I've very happy with the way this table has come out and I really look forward to playing a game of 40K on this table when I get a chance.  With this table done, I can prepare myself to paint the second table I have, one that my father smashed out in a single afternoon.  By jingo that man can wield a hammer and router! Hmmm... Sounds like a potential title for Black Library’s new magazine focusing on carpentry fiction.  Either way, painting this table will be my next gaming table project, which I aim to have finished by the end of the year. 

Catch you all later


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